In an ever-ageing population, it appears to have become commonplace to hear people talking about their pain as ‘just part of getting older’ or ‘normal ageing’. It is widely accepted that ‘the majority of problems in the senior patient are represented by signs and symptoms that reflect the accumulation of life-long environmental impact combined with decreased function of most organ systems’ (1). But how do we differentiate from the ‘normal’ decrease in function and a disease process like degeneration impacting your daily living?
Firstly, here are some statistics to dispel the myths of ‘normal ageing’:
- Only 5% of individuals over the age of 65 live in nursing homes.
- 85% of individuals between the ages of 65-69 experience no difficulty in self-care activities or walking (66% of individuals between the ages of 80-84)
- 1/3 of individuals over the age of 80 have no difficulty walking a quarter of a mile, lifting 10lb, or climbing 10 steps without resting.
So why can’t you?
There are 2 reasons:
1 Due to many factors there is a certain amount of degeneration in the area, leading to a decrease in function and increased stress on the surrounding stabilising tissues, causing pain (i.e. arthritis).
2 There is some underlying dysfunction in the area, causing pain (i.e. poor posture leading to compression of the joints in the back of the neck/low back)
How do you know which one is you?
That’s easy – book yourself in with a Chiropractor! Chiropractors are fully qualified to assess whether there is any degeneration in the joints or whether there is something biomechanical leading to the dysfunction and consequently the pain. Through gentle adjustments, mobilisations and soft tissue work, we can reduce the tension in the area, which allows the joints to move freer, leading to less fatigue. So no matter how your pain is being caused, Chiropractic will help in pain management and can prevent the degenerative process from progressing.
How can you help yourself?
Unfortunately the body doesn’t work overnight – this isn’t a quick fix. It may take several treatments before you notice a good difference. The time between treatments is just as important as the treatments themselves. Stretching is one of the most important things you can do for your body.
If it’s your neck/shoulders you’re struggling with, there are some simple stretches that can really help ease the tension and get everything moving better:
- Put both hands on the back of your head. Pull your head down, tucking your chin into your chest.
- Put one hand on the opposite side of the head, with your arm across the top of the head. Pull the head down to bring your ear as close to your shoulder as you can. Repeat on the other side.
- Stand in a door way with your arms on either side of the doorway. Put one foot forward to steady yourself. Lean forward to open up the chest and bring your shoulder blades closer together.
Low back problems:
First thing in the morning is always a common time for stiffness to be at it’s worst. If it doesn’t last longer than half an hour, then it’s likely some gentle stretching will help to ease it before getting out of bed – if it does last longer it’s more likely that there is underlying degeneration in the area and it’ll take more treatment.
- Before getting out of bed, lie on your back. Bring both knees to your chest and rock gently from side to side. This will help to loosen the joints in the back of your spine as well as getting the blood flowing to the muscles.
- Sitting, cross one leg over the other. Bring the knee to the opposite shoulder, and then turn the shoulders into the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
The best thing you can do for yourself – exercise! Individuals who exercise regularly have a better chance of preventing, slowing, or accommodating to the effect of many chronic diseases as well as improving balance and decrease the chance of falling. With exercise, joint reaction time is decreased and muscle mass is increased, providing protection from falls (1). Gentle walking every day is enough to increase breathing and heart rate.
If you want anymore information regarding any of the above, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01330 824040 or email email@example.com
1 Souza, T (2005). Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor. 3rd ed. London: Jones and Bartlett. p933-956.